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Cooper to join ranks of NM fighters in The Ultimate Fighter; Waterson-Gomez bout on UFC 303 prelim

Jun. 3—Albuquerque's Edwin Cooper Jr. is the latest New Mexico MMA fighter to participate in the UFC's venerable and wildly successful The Ultimate Fighter reality series.

TUF 32 is scheduled to debut on Tuesday.

Cooper (6-1), a featherweight, is one of 16 fighters who'll appear on the show.

New Mexico's most memorable contributor to the success of the series was Albuquerque's Diego Sanchez, who emerged as the champion in the very first TUF in 2005. Sanchez's success is considered largely responsible for the emergence of Albuquerque's Jackson-Wink MMA as a major player in the sport.

Cooper, a featherweight, trains at Jackson-Wink.

In 2011, Albuquerque's John Dodson, then training at Jackson-Wink, won the TUF 14 bantamweight title. Diego Brandao of Brazil, a J-W teammate, won the TUF 14 featherweight title.

In 2017, Albuquerque's Nicco Montaño, then training at FIT-NHB, won the TUF women's flyweight title — and became the UFC's inaugural flyweight champion.

AND ONE MORE: Michael Lyubimov, the gym manager at Jackson-Wink, points out that J-W actually has two fighters in TUF 32.

Joining Cooper is Bekhzod Usmonov (12-4), a native of Tajiikistan who has trained at Jackson-Wink for some three years.

Usmonov is also a featherweight.

TCL: Las Cruces' Samantha Ginithan ran her record to 7-0 in Team Combat League competition on Thursday with one-round victories over Feifimilai Falva and Alicia Napoleon Espinosa.

Ginithan fights for the Houston Hitmen, coached by fellow Las Crucen Austin Trout.

Albuquerque's Sharahya Moreu, fighting for the Philly Smoke, lost one-round bouts on May 22 to Ameila Moore, a three-time national amateur champiion. Moreu is 2-3 in TCL competition.

UPCOMING: Albuquerque's Michelle Waterson-Gomez (18-12) is scheduled for a June 29 fight against Gillian Robertson (13-8) in a strawweight match on UFC 303 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Waterson-Gomez's fight is scheduled for the prelim portion of the card, but it's a card the MMA world will be watching — featuring the return to the Octagon of the popular and controversial Conor McGregor after a nearly three-year absence.

McGregor (22-6), a former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion, is matched against Michael Chandler (23-8).

Waterson-Gomez will seek to snap a four-fight losing streak.

BKFC: Las Cruces' Louie Burke has posted on Facebook about an upcoming BKFC card in Las Cruces in mid-August, with Trout (2-0 in bare-knuckle) in the main event.

The BKFC has made no announcement, and the New Mexico Athletic Commission has yet to approve such an event. But BKFC President David Feldman said after the BKFC event at Tingley Coliseum on March 29 that plans were afoot for a card elsewhere in New Mexico with Trout defending the BKFC welterweight title he won from Luis Palomino in February in Hollywood, Florida.

Burke posted that the main event in Las Cruces would be a Trout-Palomino rematch.